Parrots are active creatures who love to play. In fact, play is an important part of their regular routine. As a result, providing your feathered friend with an abundance of bird toys, foraging bird toys and educational bird toys is an essential part of your responsibility as a pet bird owner.
However, it’s not enough to simply toss your birds a pile of bird toys and call it good. Your bird also needs to spend time interacting with his or her human caregivers. Playing with your feathered friend offers a number of advantages:
1. It provides adequate exercise. While it’s true that your parrot will get some exercise playing with their bird toys by themselves, you can provide structured playtime that helps burn extra energy more effectively.
2. It strengthens the bond between you & your Feathered Friend. In the wild, adult parrots teach their offspring by playing with them. Pet birds view their human owners as their family or flock. Your bird wants to spend time with you. Although they may enjoy their bird toys inside their cage—nothing beats one-on-one time with you.
3. It provides mental stimulation. Games help keep your parrot’s mind sharp and alert. Since parrots are intelligent creatures, they crave these types of opportunities.
Our Severe Macaw Buddy became a “new” bird after he found out he was very talented with playing birdie basketball. His self esteem skyrocketed. He became so talented…..he was even on Animal Planet last year with his brother Kiwi (DYH Amazon) doing their bird tricks.
Here are a few fun games you can do with your parrot:
1. Fetch. For this game, locate a soft bird toy or ball. Take your bird out of his cage and find a spot in the house that has some space. This could be the living room, family room or even the hallway. Standing next to your bird, show him the ball, letting him peck at it with his beak for a minute. Next, toss the ball across the room or down the hallway, encouraging your bird to chase after it. If your bird does retrieve the ball, praise him profusely. Depending on your bird, it may take a few times for him to realize how to play the game. You may need to walk your parrot through the process once or twice. Be sure to praise your bird every time he follows your example or instructions. This game is a lot of fun for young parrots who have a bundle of energy.
In some cases like our Umbrella Cockatoo Marshmellow, “Fetch” has not really caught on. She always has the look like, “Me, chase after something……I don’t think so” LOL
2. Hide-N-Seek. Most parrots are strongly attached to their owners and will do everything possible to stay close to you. When playing Hide-N-Seek, take your parrot to an area in the house that he is not familiar with. Gently set your bird down on the floor and scurry away to go hide behind something. Your bird will most likely start looking for you immediately. To make the game easier for your parrot, you may need to poke your head around the corner or call to your parrot so he knows where you are and comes running!
Our African Grey “Jerry” just loves playing Hide N Seek. He even now knows to say “Peek a Boo” when playing this with me.
3. Staircase Climb. For this game, have another family member, whom the bird is attached to, stand at the bottom of the staircase. The person at the bottom should call to their parrot, possibly waving one of their favorite bird toys. Your parrot should eagerly come down the stairs. Once your parrot has reached the bottom, praise him for a job well-done. Next walk back up the stairs yourself, encouraging your bird to follow. This is a great work-out for your bird!! If your bird has trouble with going down the stairs first you may try this in reverse by starting with letting your bird climb up the stairs to you first. Then you can work on having him or her walk down the steps
I have been playing this game with our feathered flock for many years. Check out the video below of “Kiwi” and “Jerry” doing their “stair climb”. (This video must be at least 7 years ago…..the quality is not that good but you get the picture)
The most important thing to remember is that this is a fun time for you and your feathered friend so no matter how well or not so well your birdie does the fact that you are spending time together is what is most important.